Nearly 14 million Americans are looking for work

A couple struggling to find work in today's economy

ST. CLARE SHORES, Mich. - The economic recovery seems to be losing momentum. In May, private companies hired 83,000 new people. But local and state governments cut 28,000 jobs - that's the biggest drop since last November.

When all the other sectors are added in, there's a net gain of just 54,000 jobs. And as more people re-entered the job market, the unemployment rate edged up above nine percent.

CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason reports nearly 14 million Americans are looking for work - and millions of those who have found jobs are working for less. May Jobs: A Lousy Report

Getting pizza once in a while is a "rare treat" for Michael and Melissa Barone. For nearly two years in St. Clare Shores, they were both out of work.

"We absolutely had zero money," Michael says. "We could hardly afford to even buy food."

Michael, who was laid off by Ford, just got a new job - but at half of his old pay. Melissa is still looking for a job.

"The work just isn't there," she says.

Now the job market is getting worse. After three straight months of strong growth hiring slowed sharply in May - raising new fears the economy is faltering.

Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute says, "This isn't a soft patch. It's the beginning of a new throttling back in the pace of growth in the economy."

Achuthan sees a global industrial slowdown. Manufacturing, which had been leading the recovery, and had added jobs in each of the past six months, suddenly gave up 5,000 jobs in May.

Job growth is easing again. "We're not going to return to a quarter of a million jobs a month," Achuthan says. "That's not going to happen anytime soon."

The number of people out of work more than six months is growing again too - to more than 6 million people. That's 45 percent of the unemployed.

Melissa Barone is on that list. When the Barones were both out of work, they lost their health insurance and their house.

"We started kind of panicking and really thinking outside the box," Melissa says. "What are we gonna do? What can we do? Last resort, we're going to live in our cars."

They've had to move in with Michael's mother. "I'm 44 years old and I'm having to move in with my mom," Michael says. "That's another big hit on your ego."

Melissa, who previously worked for the government, is now studying to be a nurse. In these tough years, the Barones say all that saved them were their unemployment checks.

"Unemployment benefits have been a godsend," Michael says. "And I thank God everyday for them and every extension that was given."

Melissa's benefits run out in July. And Michigan is one of four states that have passed laws to cut the length of time you can claim state unemployment. Nearly 8 million Americans are now drawing unemployment checks.

  • Anthony Mason
    Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"